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Building a Community Engagement Team

If engaging in effective community engagement requires the full commitment of your organization from the top to the bottom, a team effort is going to be the most effective means to initiate this new practice. 

The community engagement team should not be a board committee per se, although members of the board are likely to be on the team. Think of it as a relatively small group of individuals from your organization and the community at large who are committed to the idea that exercising one’s own creativity working with artists can be an effective tool in exploring both personal and community issues and that exposure to the arts can be a meaningful tool in bringing a community together.  

While is it not the only skill you will want on your team, initially, one of the most important in the early stages of your team will be to find those people who can help in making new friends and potential partners.  

During the earliest learning phases of understanding your community, you might be a team of one, or a team of two, sharing the initial “homework” with an ally in your organization who shares your vision. Ultimately, a model of shared leadership is likely to be most effective when embracing community engagement. 

Community engagement is not “business as usual” and it will be the work of the team to articulate the principles and values that will be the foundation of your community engagement practice.  These principles and values will evolve over time.

Who could be on the team?

Previous experience in community engagement is not necessary for your team.  One of the most exciting aspects of community engagement is the learning experience that takes place for facilitators as well as participants. 

The makeup of your team will vary depending upon the size of your organization and your community but ideally your team will be a combination of paid staff (if you have them) and community volunteers. 

All organizations will likely want to recruit from among the following: 

  • Member(s) of the board of directors
  • Active and out-going volunteer(s)
  • Active young adults in your community
  • Audience member(s) or donor(s) who are also:

- A member of the chamber of commerce or some other business organization
- A senior employee or owner of a local business
- Involved in education (e.g., a teacher, a PTA member, a school board or staff  member)
- Involved in social services or health services in the community

For the community based volunteer presenter, if there is a paid staff person (full or part time), this person would likely lead the working group.  If not, it would be good to assign this leadership role to someone on the board who is naturally outgoing and not already carrying a heavy work burden.  Also consider adding a member of the programming committee and a local music or dance teacher, or a member of a visual arts community group or community choir

The facilities-based presenter will also want to include marketing, audience development, education and/or customer service staff and a staff member who is involved in programming.

Why?

The Ontario Shebang

Why?

Hazel England - Community & Education Director. Engaging our local community in creative ways
1

Why?

Will Weigler - community based theatre

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